‘ll hold my hands up: despite the Two Greedy Italians’ efforts, Italian is not my favourite cuisine (too many pound-piling things beginning with ‘p’ - pasta, parmesan, pizza…). And C4’s new offering, Simply Italian (8.30pm, 13 August), has done nothing to change my mind.
Presented by winsome Welsh Italian Michela Chiappa, this is supposed to be aspirational cookery in the mould of The Little Paris Kitchen, Baking Made Easy . or pretty much any cookery programme featuring the latest “new Nigella”. But Chiappa is no new Nigella (for all the appreciative pasta-slurping affectations) - or Rachel Khoo or Lorraine Pascale for that matter.
There’s a fine line between inspiration and irritation and I was definitely feeling the latter watching Michela and her sister Emi waft between Italy and Wales purportedly showcasing simple Italian fare ahead of their joint Italian wedding, but seemingly just as intent on showcasing their lifestyles. It was pretty nauseating stuff. That said, they’d have got away with it if the food had looked vaguely appetising. It didn’t.
The menu included Gnocchi Tricolore with a revolting-looking creamy hazelnut sauce, pasta pies filled with potato and spinach (bland) and pancakes spread with a ricotta and prosciutto mix, rolled and cut into sections, baked… and served with a tomato sauce.
I know one of the strengths of Italian food is its simplicity and that it often tastes better than it looks, but on the evidence of this, I’m not convinced. Perhaps C4 wasn’t either, which is why they ran the first two parts during the Olympics.